August 03, 2007
New Month, Old Tradition - August 2007 Edition
Shamefully late, I almost forgot our ancient and hoary tradition, which would be at once a sin and... well something.
Here again, time to comment, complain, suggest or whatever.
Posted by The Lounsbury at August 3, 2007 01:49 PM
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I don't know if this has already been discussed, but I found it pretty amusing and potentially useful: The beta version of Googles Arabic-English translator.
Here's a sample
The question is more-or-less understanable but the answer, not so much. My personal favorite, "Tellers Ahmed bail good, which shows that this is a mono-sex seminar."
Perhaps the most interesting feature is Google's open-source methodology. You can hover over any phrase with your mouse and it will ask you to suggest a better translation. Though how you can improve on ""Tellers Ahmed bail good, which shows that this is a mono-sex seminar." is beyond me.
Posted by: Anonymous at August 3, 2007 05:24 PM
I don't think translation engines are up to Arabic yet. I frankly find machine translation of even similar languages like French to be barely adequate - complex phrasing is almost always utterly bungled.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at August 4, 2007 07:29 AM
I did like the mouse over - at least then I could make sense by reading the original.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at August 4, 2007 07:31 AM
I've been using the Arabic-English Google translator ever since it came out (a year ago?) quite successfully, with one caveat: only for straight journalistic or legal texts in areas where I know context and generally have a good idea what words/phrases can and cannot mean. It (and the ones for other languages) sucks when it comes to anything with a literary quality, including even editorials.
So, if you know its limitations and happen to work in a field where you deal with "bland" texts it's quite good.
At this point, however, it seems that we're still far far away from true automatic translation. Oh well, at least it's for free.
PS: Whatever happened to the "picture a day" idea?
Posted by: MSK at August 5, 2007 07:52 AM
Did anyone catch this? A tiny documentary from Sean Smith of Guardian on US soldiers in Iraq. It's not sunshine.
I'm looking for some historical Arab authors or works that could be described as venomous, acerbic, or just plain "sassy." Could anyone help me out with this search?
Posted by: Djuha at August 6, 2007 01:02 AM
I'm far from being an expert here since I haven't been in Arab schools, but you should look at the hija' literature. Examples I know are Al-Mutanabbi or Bashar Ibn Burd, but there are many others.
Best Nigeria letter ever? Found it in my work mailbox today:
- - -
Tel:+44 70457 41890
+44 70457 41884
My name is Mr.Bassam Abu Sheriff,I am a palastian freedom fighter.I am the spokesman for the palestianian movement and leader of the Palestianian Democratic Party PDP.I worked closely with the acknowledged late Palestianian leader Mr.yasser arafat who died in 2004.I was a trusted aide to Mr.Arafat.
Quite recently I stumbled across some very important transactional documents in our great leader personal office showing some line of fund profiling from some of our donor countries.Specifically these documents
revealed how $32,000,000.00 donation from Egypt was re-profiled by a London based cash management company called securitas cashmanagement ltd.The fund was moved to Italy but the value was not reflected in our accounts.I know about these opearations and the likes since after the Isrealis made freeze our accounts and refuse donor countries from getting funds across to our organisation.Our great leader then engaged securitas cashmanagement to assist in the various funds transfer to the organisation.However,this particular transaction was omitted in our accounts and this is the reason why I came to London to trace the fund.
I am seeking your cooperation to assist me secure the fund since it is in Italy and I do not have papers to travel to Italy.Beside since I am privy to this information,I would like you to personally travel to Rome to access the fund in cash and then disburse as I will direct you later.You will be compensated with 30% of the amount if you accept to handle this transaction.
Please let me know your thoughts abou this at your earliest possible time.
I will be in London UK for two weeks and you can reach me on any of these numbers above.
My personal regards,
Mr.Bassam Abu Sheriff
Posted by: alle at August 7, 2007 05:02 AM
I once got one from "Suha Arafat" - that was my personal favorite.
Posted by: MSK at August 7, 2007 05:48 AM
Thinking of it, perhaps I should get back to this guy. I have a copy of the book by Bassam Abu-Sharif and Uzi Mahnaimi somewhere, and as I recall, it is crammed with amusing anecdotes about bomb-making, Wadie Haddad and airplane hijacking. Could prove an interesting e-mail exchange...
Posted by: alle at August 7, 2007 06:58 AM
I once got one from "Suha Arafat" - that was my personal favorite.
She must have been hard up for cash - I got that one too. On the same day as a South African Jewish genealogy variant.
completely off-topic: What's the rule for a US citizen who has citizenship because having been born in the US but who has never lived there to give US citizenship to a child. Is it true that the citizen has to live (with the child) in the US for minimum 2 years before the child can get citizenship & be registered in the citizen's passport?
Thanks in advance - I hope it's not too complex an issue.
Posted by: MSK at August 7, 2007 08:22 AM
Just wanted to drop a pointer to Abu Muqawamah's blog. Not sure why he's decided to go pseudonymous, but anyway he knows his stuff.
Posted by: Tom Scudder at August 7, 2007 10:02 AM
MSK - there are a number of potential complicating factors, but in general, the child needs to have at least one U.S. citizen parent who has resided in the U.S. for 5 years, at least 2 of which are after the age of 14:
"Foreign-born children who are residing outside of the United States will acquire citizenship on approval of an application for a certificate of citizenship and taking of the oath of allegiance, unless the oath is waived in accordance with section 337(a) of the Act. The Service will issue a certificate of citizenship if the following conditions have been fulfilled:
(1) The child has at least one United States citizen parent (by birth or naturalization);
(2) The United States citizen parent has been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for at least 5 years, at least 2 of which were after the age of 14, or the United States citizen parent has a citizen parent who has been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for at least 5 years, at least 2 of which were after the age of 14;
(3) The child currently is under 18 years of age;
(4) The child currently is residing outside the United States in the legal and physical custody of the United States citizen parent; and
(5) The child is temporarily present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission and is maintaining such lawful status in the United States.
If an adopted child, all of the above conditions must be fulfilled and the child must satisfy the requirements applicable to adopted children under section 101(b)(1) of the Act."
Needless to say, this is an insanely complicated area of law, and IANAL, so if you want to share more specifics, just e-mail me and I'll see what I can do.
Posted by: Eva Luna at August 7, 2007 11:00 AM
Further note - in some circumstances, a child can qualify via a grantparent if the parent(s) don't meet the U.S. residency requirements...(scroll down in the link above):
"When Is it Necessary To File the Form N-600/N-643, Supplement A?
Under the CCA, the U.S. citizen parent of a child living abroad must have at least 5 years of physical presence in the United States, 2 years of which are after the age of 14, in order to apply for a certificate of citizenship on behalf of a minor child. If the U.S. citizen parent cannot meet this requirement, a child may still qualify for citizenship under the CCA if the U.S. citizen parent has a U.S. citizen parent who met the physical presence requirements noted above.
If the child is relying on the physical presence of the U.S. citizen parent's citizen parent, the Form N-600/N-643, Supplement A must also be submitted. There is no fee for this supplement form."
Posted by: Eva Luna at August 7, 2007 04:30 PM
Thanks a lot - this answered the question.
Posted by: MSK at August 8, 2007 01:34 AM
Here's some Saudi anti-Iranian propaganda.
And here's a retelling of the dollar dump threats of China lately, from Sadly, No:
If you cut taxes and increase spending while simultaneously running a big trade imbalance, you have to get your money from somewhere. So what you do is, you go to your friend Zhongguo Renmin Yinhang and say, “Ni hao, People’s Bank of China! If you buy these US treasury securities for fifty billion dollars, then later I will give you your fifty billion dollars back plus billions more dollars in interest.” And your friend says, “Sure thing, dude! That sounds like a great deal.” And he buys your treasury securities, and you buy a gigantic amount of goods from his uncle’s wholesale enterprise, Sleeping Tiger China Capitalism Mart, and ship it back home. And then you go for a vacation at your ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Then you do it again. Then you do it again and again. Then you do it for a few more years, and then again and again and again. “Jeesh,” you say along the way, “We sure owe the People’s Bank of China a lot of dollars. But we’ll totally be able to pay the interest and keep borrowing more money if we just keep growing our real-estate bubble fast enough to stay ahead of the game.” Then you buy a gigantic load of goods from Sleeping Tiger China Capitalism Mart and go off for a vacation at your ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Then one day your friend, People’s Bank of China, gets pissed and says you’d better quit doing that thing you keep doing that’s always bugging him. And you’re like, “Aah, whatever. Don’t tell me what to do.” And he’s like, “Dude, how about all that money you owe me? Maybe I’m getting tired of being your freaking cash machine, okay?”
[sound of needle scratching on record]
And you’re like, “What. . .did. . .you. . .say?”
And he’s like, “I said quit doing that thing that’s always bugging me or else I might decide to be a dick about it.”
Then, unsure what to do next, you buy a gigantic load of goods from Sleeping Tiger China Capitalism Mart and go off for a vacation at your ranch in Crawford, Texas, as your friend starts looking at Taiwan in a somewhat unsettling way.
Posted by: Klaus at August 11, 2007 05:02 AM
Can anything now pass for political analysis in the Washington Post?
"Libya under Gaddafi has embarked on a journey that could make it the first Arab state to transition peacefully and without overt Western intervention to a stable, non-autocratic government and, in time, to an indigenous mixed constitution favoring direct democracy locally and efficient government centrally." (etc)
Posted by: alle at August 19, 2007 04:19 AM
Any thoughts on Kouchner's trip to Baghdad? My francophone colleague thinks the French are trying to situate themselves to play a diplomatic role in Iraq. If they pulled America's chestnuts out of the fire, the US would certainly owe them one. But I've seen no indication that this is what is going on, myself.
Posted by: Antiquated Tory at August 20, 2007 10:26 AM
Did anyone here see Offside? It was in town a couple of months ago, and I'd meant to write something up, but couldn't think of how to frame it. Would love to hear what others thought of it, though.
Posted by: Eva Luna at August 20, 2007 01:17 PM
If they pulled America's chestnuts out of the fire, the US would certainly owe them one.
I don't think the US wants anyone touching their chestnuts. If France really seeks a role in Iraq, I'm sure they're thinking far ahead: after a US pullback, they could act as mediators or whatever, but as long as that isn't happening, no room for outsiders. I'm guessing instead that this could be Sarkozyism manifesting itself -- visiting Iraq to lend some actual support, rather than just trying to edge in on America's playing field.
(Also about raising Kouchner's international visibility etc, to fuel both lingering self-delusions of grandeur and French diplomacy in the rest of the region.)
Posted by: alle at August 20, 2007 04:50 PM
alle: WRT Libya, you might want to take a look at this post by Abu Aardvark.
Posted by: dubaiwalla at August 21, 2007 10:29 AM
dubaiwalla - already did, but thanks. the silverstein article is hilarious...
on the subject of gaddafi, does anyone else get the feeling he has sort of let himself go? he used to be such a looker in his robes and uniforms, but nowadays, despite being pretty young for a dictator, he looks like a hobo in a space suit. no focus, mumbling, unshaved, mind wandering, mouth half open... i wouldn't be surprised to see him start drooling in some interview. if i were his daddy, i'd ask if he is doing drugs.
Posted by: alle at August 21, 2007 04:16 PM
From the authors picks:
Britons 'more suspicious' of Muslims
FT Poll: France emerged as the country most at ease with its Muslim population.
Now this comes as a surprise, I wonder how they reached this result, because I really have a hard time believing this.
And if it's true, then I don't know if I should be very positively surprised by the French, or very negatively so by the rest of the fellow Euros.
This has been discussed here before: Americans with MENA experience and ties are deemed suspicious, making them unable to get gov security clearance, and so cannot work for the government in MENA affairs. End result: US services still lack people speaking Arabic, Farsi, etc, and who know the region, having apparently turned away a considerable number of the people who signed up around 9/11.
Apparently, media attention to the problem has made absolutely no difference.
Posted by: alle at August 23, 2007 12:24 PM